Boxing: DeGale triumphs on debut but Rogan steals the show

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The Independent Online

James Degale went all four rounds, Frankie Gavin stopped his man in four and BJ Saunders won in the second round when the Olympic trio became the young professionals at the launch of the serious part of their careers at the NIA in Birmingham on Saturday.

DeGale was the last to enter the ring and he admitted after his points win against Georgian Vepkhia Tchilaia that he received a bit of good-natured abuse as he walked to the ring. There were a few boos and jeers during the last two rounds, largely because of a large Irish contingent who were there for the Commonwealth heavyweight fight between Belfast's Martin Rogan, a taxi driver, and Matt Skelton.

At the Olympics last summer DeGale beat Ireland's Darren Sutherland in the semi-final and Sutherland was considered a gold-medal favourite. The Sutherland and DeGale fight was massive in Ireland and the booing on Saturday was not a shock.

"I've boxed in some hostile places as an amateur but it was nothing to worry about in Birmingham," said DeGale. "Sutherland's a good fighter and one day we will meet again. I'm just happy to have got win number one."

Gavin suffered a gash on his nose and looked a bit fleshy but was far to accurate for George Kadaria, another Georgian import, and Saunders was too strong for Hungary's Attila Molnar.

The Olympians received most of the publicity before the night but Saturday belonged to Rogan who stopped Skelton in the 11th of a heavyweight showdown that promoter Frank Warren insists was one of the best he has seen.

Rogan's story is fantastic and after wins against Audley Harrison and Skelton he could soon be in the fairytale position of securing a real world title opportunity after just 12 fights.